TIME OUT WITH TEXTILE DESIGNER, OLUBUKOLA OGUNSINA
For about 3 decades, she has worked in the Textile Design industry where she creates beautiful fabrics using tie-dye, batik and other techniques as well as makes them into clothing, bed and pillow covers, fashion accessories, etc.
She is a Bachelor of Arts graduate in fine and applied arts textile technology with a certificate in fashion design.
We chatted with Olubukola Ogunsina, the Creative Director of Clothmate Ventures (a textile design outfit and art gallery) about life as a textile designer and the impact of textile design in the fashion industry. Read the interview below:
What inspired you to venture into textile designing/fashion business?
I have always liked Arts. I can say I’m a born artist. As early as 2 years of age, I started acting, singing and drawing. Actually! all my siblings are good in drawing. I’m the only one who ended up taking it as a course. While at school I discovered that I was always tops in fine art class. I even taught my mates cloth dyeing. I decided to major in textiles because it’s very lucrative and I find it easy getting inspirations to do unique designs. I love colours and like bespoke attires. I feel very uncomfortable seeing people shabbily dressed.
When did it all begin?
I would say my money-making fashion venture began in my final year in the university. I had to stay back to complete my graduate school project. My cousin gave me a t-shirt from her trip to USA. I decided to make copies similar to it in complementary colours. I went ahead to purchase 100% jersey fabrics and off I went to a local tailor in Ile-Ife town. The tailor got the sewing right, taking care of finishing details. I was excited. I sold all before I left school. On getting back home in Lagos, I bought more fabrics, got better tailors and so the business kept on. I went on to introduce screen printing (African motifs). That fetched me more money and fame. They were unique .
What is the experience like?
The experience has been interesting because I love what I produce. It gives me joy seeing people putting on the attires I create. Art is priceless, so I can’t really say I’m getting enough pay from my works. Sometimes, I get ‘wow!’ clients and sometimes I get those who don’t pay much, reason being that they don’t value art yet. So, I encourage them by allowing a little lower fee for my work. Some end up coming back to purchase and paying higher than they did earlier.
Describe a breakthrough moment in your business.
Hmm! Breakthrough! I can’t say I have a big breakthrough yet even though I’ve been in the business for a while now. I just opened my art gallery last November and hoping to get a big breakthrough. However, I was able to organize a big exhibition in 2017. Art, Craft, and Fashion exhibition where I invited other artists to display their works in stalls for very little amount. I even gave some of them free space to get their works known.
Years ago, I was the main exhibitor at the Ndaba Art Exhibition organised by the Department of African Law, University of Lagos. The event was well attended.
What challenges do you face?
Challenges are part of everyone’s entire life time. I face location challenges, financial challenges, etc. Artists on the island in Lagos make a fortune because they are in the midst of the bourgeoise and those who value art.
Here on the mainland, most people are not ready to pay for art. Also, I’ve faced challenges trying to get my work recognised overseas.
What future plans do you have for your business?
I intend opening a gallery on the Island. Lekki to be precise. Also, opening a training school and having more exhibitions.
How does textile designing impact the fashion industry?
Textile designing is an important aspect of fashion. They go hand in hand, especially African prints. I am still looking forward to a time in Nigeria when all our attires will be made in handcrafted African prints .
Having been in the business for a while now, how do you see textile designing in the future of fashion?
I think Nigeria has a future in textile designing. We have tie-dyeing communities all over Nigerian cities – Abeokuta, Ibadan, Lagos, Osogbo to mention but a few. The federal government should look into this and encourage textile artists.
What does style mean to you?
Style is individual; To me, it’s a personal thing. Style is what suits me and what I find comfortable putting on. I particularly love putting on attires that are unique. I like to be different.
What advice do you have for anyone who wants to venture into textile design business?
My advice to anyone who wants to venture into textiles is that they should have a passion for it, get proper training and be extremely creative. It’s a highly competitive market.